Monday, June 23, 2014

Interlude, With Airplanes

Today, I want to take a break from El Principade de le Comadreja, and take a little walk back to last summer, when I embarked upon a new hobby path. Or picked back up a very old one, depending on your point of view.

By June of last year, I realized I needed a break from wargaming miniatures. I hadn't painted anything in a while, but I was always organizing, sorting, and making grand plans for the remainder of my collection. I would alternately pull out and pack away again my various 15mm, 28mm, and prepainted collections trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Nothing ever really got done, and I realized I just needed a break from the whole model soldier thing. All of a sudden, I had some spare time and no idea what I wanted to do with it.

As it turned out, I wanted to build model airplanes. I had an old P-40 Warhawk and a P-70 Nighthawk, both in 1/48 scale, still in their boxes awaiting some attention. So I decided that 1/48 WWII aircraft would be my new hobby. At least for a while. As a child, I had built airplanes in a variety of scales, usually haphazardly and with minimal interior detailing or painting. So, starting in October of last year until very recently, I puttered with my airplane kits, slowly assembling them before moving on to the next. I think I had better airplane assembly skills back when I was a teenager, because all of these kits gave me trouble in one way or another. But I am more patient now, and fully painted every sub-assembly before it was attached to the next step. So, even while the assembly of these kits leave a lot to be desired, the overall effect is better than what I was creating back when plastic models was all that I did.

Enough commentary, on to the pictures!

P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 was a bit of a workhorse for the USAAF, this one is painted for North Africa and ios loaded for some ground attack missions as well as air superiority. The kit was an old AMT one, but it went together smoothly and was probably the perfect plane to get me back into the groove of building plastic airplanes.

P-70 Nighthawk

The Nighthawk was a variation of the A-26, modified to be a nightfighter and reconaissance craft. The baomb bay was replaced with bigger guns and a huge ammo hopper, and various fun things like radar was added. I think it is remakably big for a two-seater. It was an old AMT kit, and gave me very few problems except for the landing gear, which was a nightmare. I think I re-did the struts five or so times, and finally just dripped superglue over them and held them in place until the plane sat level.

J2M3 Raiden

An cousin of the A6 series Zero, this interceptor was fraught with design problems from the intial prototypes to the final producion models. However, I have built so mmany Zeros over the course of my life that I wanted a different kind of Japanese plane. I really wanted a Betty bomber, but in 1/48 scale they are prohibitively large. Besides, this was under $15 which is a fine price for a weekend project. This was a Ta,iya kit. Tamiya had always been the benchmark for quality when I was younger, and this one did not diappoint.

J7W1 Shinden

And when it comes to different kinds of Japanese planes, I have to say that this has got to be the craziest looking plane I have seen from WWII. It was designed with the pusher-prop so that it could be replaced with a jet engine when the technology became available. Even by my modern standards, this looks like it comes from outer space. It did not enter production quickly enough to see service before the end of the war. The kit was Hasegawa, and was perhaps a little beyond my basic assembly skills. I muddled through and am happy with the result.

He 162 Volksjager

The last gasp of Nazi airpower, this jet fighter was designed to be built of plywood and intended to be flown by Hitler Youth Corps pilots trained in to fly in gliders. They saw one engagement with experienced pilots at the stick before the end of the war. I think they look a lot like what a goblin would be like if one were an airplane. A goblin plane, if you will. The kit was from DML, with photo-etched brass parts. I had never worked with photoetched brass before, and I do not want to do so again. The whole thing was a damn pain in the ass to put together, and in my opinion less due to my lack of skill than this was just a poor-fitting kit. My next project will be either Revell/Monogram, or Tamiya. Those are where I need to be in terms of fit,  complexity, and skill.

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